Rancho Palos Verdes Smelled a Rat in Local 11 Ballot Measure

Yesterday, the citizens of Rancho Palos Verdes overwhelmingly voted against a potentially harmful ballot measure backed by none other than Unite Here Local 11.

While the measure may have seemed well-intentioned on its face, voters clearly weren’t fooled. Hiding inside Measure B’s minimum wage increase was a square footage limit on how much hotel housekeepers can clean per shift.

Sound familiar? A similar law passed in Santa Monica this summer, and not without controversy. Several hotel workers came out to testify against the law, but the City Council ultimately sided with its pals at the union. Another similar ordinance, which passed through a ballot measure in Long Beach, is now facing legal scrutiny.

A report of the potential impact of these square footage limitations found that it could actually increase housekeeping costs “by between 32 and 65 percent a year.” A rise in labor costs could cause hotels to cut staff hours or lay off employees altogether. At a City Council hearing in Santa Monica, hotel workers voiced concerns over losing their benefits if they weren’t able to work the required amount of hours each week. They also worried about losing the ability to earn extra pay incentives, which they had under the current cleaning system.

Even worse, these ordinances — including the ballot measure in Rancho Palos Verdes — include an exemption for unionized hotels. That means the union isn’t forced to play by its own rules, even though unionized hotel housekeepers typically clean well over the measure’s recommended 4,000 sq. ft. limit per shift.

This isn’t an issue of worker safety. The union knows workers are happy with the current scheduling system — that’s why Local 11 fought to keep it intact for its own members. Forcing non-union hotels onto a different system is just a way to coerce employers into signing collective bargaining agreements with Local 11.

Fortunately, it sounds like Rancho Palos Verdes finally got it right in its decision to reject Local 11’s ill-advised law. If only Santa Monica had been so lucky.